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No, not that View

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When I first met my wife, one of the things she talked a lot about was long-term gain versus short-term gain.  It was a philosophy of hers that applied not just to the financial aspects of her life but to life in general.

The long and short of it is that most of the time, the value of long-term gains almost always outweigh that of the short-term.  Generally speaking, if you sacrifice the long-term for the short-term, in all likelihood you’ll end up paying for it later, usually negating any gains made in the short-term.

It’s not an easy philosophy to stick to.  In this day and age of immediate gratification, we, as a society seem to have lost our ability to see down the road any further than our next meal, paycheck, trip to the mall.  It’s easy to give into the flash and dazzle of getting it/doing it/buying it/watching it/eating it now, forgetting that a few hours later, that sensation will, at best, be a dull, forgettable feeling, and, at worst, a feeling of regret and, at times, literal pain.  But memory can be short.

The long-view is hard.  Patience is hard.  It can be full of doubt and even despair.

And that is part of the reason why it is so rewarding.

Marathon training has taught me that.

***

After a long day of work or a night with too little sleep, most of us just want a little decompression time.  A little “me” time.  Time to veg, turn our brains off and put ourselves back together.

For many of us, that “me” time is usually spent in front of a screen, our mouths full of scooby-snacks.

I want to redefine what “me” time, or “veg” time is.

***

For me, whether it’s morning, noon or night, when it’s time to run, there is always, ALWAYS an internal struggle:

  • Do I run or go back to bed?
  • Do I run or do I chill out on the couch?
  • Do I run or go to bed at a decent hour?

Sometimes the balance leans toward the run, others it leans towards potatoing.  I’ve reached the point, however, where I know I will be much happier in the long run if I go for the run.  Choosing the bed or the couch may feel good in the here and now, but eventually I get restless, antsy, and sometimes downright grumpy.

Most people view running as an exertion, a time where you spend energy instead of re-charging, and on the surface they are right.  You can’t argue with physics (not in this universe anyway), and the laws of physics clearly state that to move an object you must use energy.  Even if you are able to overcome the inertial gravity of the couch or bed and get yourself in motion, you’re still fighting air resistance and gravity.

It takes work to run.

But sometimes, on a meta-physical level, 1 – 1 ≠ 0; sometimes 1 – 1 = 2. And that’s where running as the new “vegging out” time comes into play.  After a good run, I can be physically spent, but my mind is refreshed and alert.  A good run can wash away the imaginary burdens of the day and help you work through the real ones.  The blood coursing through your body and the endorphins firing off in your brain allows your mind to work on problems in the background while your consciousness only has to work on the simple task of putting one leg in front of the other.

You can get some of the same effects from sleep (and believe me, sleep is an integral part of overall health – a topic for another time), but you certainly cannot get them from potatoing on the couch with a bag full of Cheetos.

At the end of the run you get the added bonus of knowing you improved your health just a little more, buying yourself another day, another week, another month with your family on our little planet.

In the end, is waiting an hour for the satisfaction of a good run that much longer to wait that plopping yourself on the couch?  One of the benefits of marathon running has been a new ability to mentally speed up or slow down an hour depending on the situation.  Besides, the couch will still be there at the end of the day.  If you run first, you’ll smile knowing you got to take advantage of the best of both worlds.

Then you can curl up on the couch and watch a little trashy TV, you know, like the View!

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Why do you run?

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I never saw the movie Sliding Doors. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this post. For those that have never heard of it, the plot of the movie centers around the two possible lives a woman may have had depending on whether she made it on to a subway car or not on one fateful night.

How many sliding doors do we make or miss every day in our lives?

According to some physicists, every decision we make is Sliding Doors in the making.  Every decision we make creates two or more possible outcomes, with every possible outcome actually occurring in separate universes.  Some of those sliding doors lead to minor, almost undetectable changes in our lives; others can have dramatic effects.  It’s enough to paralyze one’s decision-making ability, which I’m sure is one of the sliding doors.

It makes you wonder what your life would be like now had you taken a slightly different path early in your life – a poetry course instead of American Lit in school; or a skiing trip instead of the beach or home for Spring Break; the drug store instead of the grocery store to pick up some Advil. Would you still be you?

What does this have to do with running?

Nothing really, except this – many of us go through life not really thinking about the sliding doors we may or may not be going through. We don’t think about what doors may be closing for good on us as we walk past them. I am making an effort to make sure that I do everything I can to maintain my health and my ability to run.  I am actively looking for the sliding doors that I think will make me a better, stronger and more enduring runner and in the long run, a healthier old man.

It’s still a guessing game.  You never know for sure which sliding doors lead where, but you can make educated, pro-active guesses, and do what you know is right for you.  Sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream after dinner or going for a walk?  On any given day, either choice will probably not have long, rippling effects, but making the same bad choices on a daily basis certainly will.

What doors did you walk by today?

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…I finished with a world record shattering time of 1:59:59. The first sub-2 hour marathon in history…AND I did it in my signature Luau VFF’s.

The Highly Anticipated Luau VFF

Get yourself a pair today at http://www.vibramsfivefingers.com.

Okay, so no I didn’t. I didn’t even qualify for Boston last year. Shoot, I barely ran a sub 4-hour marathon in my first (and so far only) try. But, somewhere, and I mean that, I did it. I not only won the Boston Marathon, but I won New York, Chicago and London as well.

The coolest part…

-wait for it-

…is so did you!

Of course, it didn’t happen in this universe, but if you are familiar with quantum physics (of which I am – just enough to make a fool of myself) you may also be familiar with the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). In a nutshell, MWI states that for every decision we come to in life, both/all choices are in fact made and reality branches off in two or more directions instead of just one.

For the infinite number of choices we could have made since the beginning of time, an infinite number of not-quite-identical worlds have branched off into existence. Infinite worlds – infinite possibilities, all occupying the same space, just not the same reality. This is not fantasy. It is scientific theory that is actually gaining support in the scientific community.

In one of these worlds, all of the right choices have been made to turn me into a world-class marathoner. I am simply the best there was, is, and ever will be. There is also one where YOU are the number one marathoner of all time.

Looking at the glass half empty, I could ask: Why am I not in THAT reality? Why am I stuck here as just an average, every day runner? I point this out not to tease us or make us feel bad. No, I choose to look at the glass as half full. This other me is still me – the other you is still you. We are connected by the fact that we are essentially the same person. So when I am out there pounding the pavement, feeling the legs tire, I can reach across the ether, mentally touching that other reality and channel the world-class me. He’s/I’m out there/right here – occupying the same space, often running the same routes.

The next time you feel yourself lagging, draw on some cross-dimensional strength. I’m sure the Olympic medalist you would be happy to lend a hand.

***I also have a best-selling book, Run Luau Run, available on Amazon and at your local bookstores. Well, somewhere I do.

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“I only run when I’m being chased…”

-My Wife and many of my non-running friends

Why do I run? For one, I run because I am being chased. By whom? By the same entity that chases all of us. Time. I know that eventually I will lose this race. It is inevitable. But I run knowing that I can put years between me and that ultimate runner.

There are the obvious ways in which running puts off Father Time. As we improve our general health we tend to physically age more slowly.

What follows is one of my favorite quotes from Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run:

“You could literally halt epidemics in their tracks with this one remedy,” he said. He flashed two fingers up in a peace sign, then slowly rotated them downward till they were scissoring through space. The Running Man.

“So simple,” he said. “Just move your legs.”

For me that was an “aha!” moment. All of the common Western diseases can cut our “run” short. The simple act of running can prevent a countless number of these ailments from affecting our society so pervasively the way they do today.

But you know what else running can do? It can literally slow down time.

Yes, I said literally.

Based on Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, the Twin Paradox states that if one twin were to fly off in a rocket at close to light speed, fly around space for a while and then return to Earth, he would return to find his twin brother had aged dramatically more than he.  This is based on the fact that the speed of light is the same for every observer, no matter how fast he or she is going.  It has been proven in experiments.  Years ago, scientists sent several planes with atomic clocks on board to fly around the world.  Before they took off, the clocks on the planes were synchronized with an atomic clock on the ground.  When the aircrafts returned from their jaunts around the world, it was shown that the clocks on the airplanes were slightly behind the clock on the ground.  The faster one goes, the slower time moves for him or her.  At the speed of light, time essentially stops.

The faster and longer you run, the more time slows down for you. You age at a slower rate.  Sadly, you can run your whole life and only slow down time by a imperceptible amount, but I find knowing what we can do as runners poetic…beautiful. As runners we can control Time. We cannot ultimately defeat him, but by the simple act of running, we can tweak him.

I am being chased. That is one reason why I run.

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